Brussels, Belgium, 5 June – The European Union (EU) Thursday signed “provisional” Economic partnership Agreements (EPA) with Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland and plans to do the same with Mozambique “very soon” the European Trade commissioner said in Brussels.
Catherine Ashton said that Mozambique, “indicated it planned to sign this agreement very soon,” and had not done so yet because the Trade Minister “is unable to travel to Brussels today.”
Angola “opted not to sign the commitment,” as did South Africa and Namibia.
The provisional commitment signed ensures access to the European market by those countries whilst negotiations continue for the conclusion of a definitive EPA with countries belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The EU has been negotiating EPAs for several years with four separate regional blocks – the economic communities of Southern Africa (SADC), West Africa (ECOWAS), Central Africa (ECCA) and East Africa (EAC).
The initial deadline set for concluding negotiations was December 2007, to coincide with the Lisbon Summit, but several cuntries at that time called for the agreements not to be signed, claiming that access by European products to African markets free of customs taxes would affect the development of the local community and Brussels was forced to extend negotiations.
The EPAs replace the preferential trade system between the European Union and Africa, which was considered by the World Trade Organisation to not comply with current international regulations. (macauhub)